Raising $21,446.10, Michele Taylor and Jim Lay kept it classy dancing to “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B” Saturday night.
Mohawk Industries Presents Calhoun’s Dancing with the Stars raised an overall $105,948.04 to go towards United Way and Friends of the GEM Theatre.
“It was far better than we ever dreamed possible,” said Gordon County United Way Director Vickie Spence. “I could not believe the support we got from this community.”
The eight teams of dancers have been working since November of 2011 to raise money for the first ever Calhoun production of Dancing with the Stars (DWTS). The team to raise the most money won.
A second aspect of the competition focused more on dancing skills.
Four judges were selected to critique each of the eight teams Saturday night as they performed for the sold out GEM Theatre crowd. The theater seats 461 people, according to Spence.
Melissa Keller, Joey Parrott, Linda Suesserman and Kay Ann Wetherington shared their professional opinions with the dancers throughout the evening before eventually picking the Judge’s Favorite, which Elsa Gonzalez and Barton Mathews took down dancing to “El Beeper.”
Keller has competed professionally in dance competitions and currently is an instructor at a dance studio in Pinehurst, Ga.
Parrott has more than 30 years of theatrical experience and has served as a Miss America Preliminary Judge. He is currently the vice-president at Wells Fargo Bank in Dalton.
Suesserman has been competing as an amateur dancer for several years and placed fourth in the United States Dance Championships in 2011.
Wetherington is a former Radio City Music Hall Rockette and currently is a prosecutor in the Rome District Attorney’s Office.
Most of the $100,000 raised came in prior to Saturday night’s festivities. However, the number does not include concessions.
The dancers raised $81,948.04 all together, with $17,445 of that money coming in as votes Saturday night. The rest of the money came from ticket sales, which could not be used toward dancer votes.
Sponsorships helped the dancers raise money, and “Mohawk stepped up early on,” said Spence. The Fund for Calhoun-Gordon and Gordon Hospital were also big contributors.
While Lay and Taylor won the competition, Stella Bailey and Jimmy Phillips came in a close second raising $18,839.
“It was neck-and-neck between Taylor/Lay and Bailey/Phillips going back and forth until the very end,” said Spence.
All proceeds from the evening will be split 50/50 between United Way of Gordon County and the non-profit Friends of the GEM Theatre.
“We are anticipating that our expenses do not exceed $20,000,” said Spence.
Spence took a moment Saturday night to thank the Calhoun and Gordon County communities for helping United Way reach the 2012 fundraising goal.
The original plan was to raise $500,000 in 2012 and prior to adding in money from DWTS, the organization had raised $512,685 (as of Monday morning) to distribute to the 18 agencies United Way supports.
Videos of the evening were produced by the Sonoraville High School video production class and can be purchased for $20 at the United Way office at the Calhoun Depot. All proceeds from the DVD sales will go to Sonoraville High School.
Photos are also available from Sam Ratcliffe at samratcliffephotography.phototime.com. Proceeds from photo sales will go to Gordon County United Way and Friends of the GEM Theatre.
The list of those who made the fundraiser possible is long, and Spence credits each person for making the evening great.
“It was a huge effort from our community, but we can’t thank our dancers enough,” said Spence. “Everybody just stepped up; it was unbelievable.”
However, she fails to mention her part in the success. Spence worked with GEM Marketing Director Sarah Husser and Executive Vice President of Greater Community Bank of Calhoun Donna McEntyre to conceptualize, plan and execute the evening.
Joni Harbin and Sam Edwards served as co-masters of ceremony, and kept the audience laughing throughout the show. Wanda Whitten, the director, kept it moving.
Velo Vineyard set a precedent, streaming the fundraiser live from the GEM Theatre for those who didn’t snatch up a ticket in time. They also provided a red carpet from a pre-party to the theater.
Hair and make-up artists included Liza Bohannon-Allen, Margaret Bohannon and Ron Carter. Owner of BnK Marketing Ben Brazell designed the brand logo, and his wife Kim Brazell helped design the program.
Debbie Mixon choreographed the opening number. Fitness First and the GEM theatre provide facilities for the dancers to practice in.
Owner of Hi-Gains Audio ran the sound and video elements of the show.
The contestants of Dancing with the Stars were, in order of performance: Helen Jones and Scott Fletcher, Michele Taylor and Jim Lay, Stella Bailey and Jimmy Phillips, Hanna Dean and Chip Sloan, Elsa Gonzalez and Barton Mathews, Chrisy Davis and David Moyer, Debbie Mixon and Bill McCown, LaRae Pennell and Andy Baxter.
“The dancers made it; they worked so hard,” said Spence.
After the success of Mohawk Industries Presents Calhoun’s Dancing with the Stars, Spence, Husser and McEntyre are already looking to next year.
“I don’t know if we will ever be able to replicate it, but we sure hope to,” said Spence. “We have already reserved the GEM for next year.”